There's a popular team-building exercise called The Marshmallow Challenge.
A group is broken into teams of about five people. Each team is equipped with 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow.
Build a free-standing structure with the marshmallow at the top. Each team has 18 minutes to get it done. The tallest structure wins.
Now, if you had to guess which type of individuals have consistently performed the best at this game, who would you pick?
Stanford STEM students?
The undefeated champions by a long shot are (insert winning gameshow music)...
It turns out adults (the worst being the MBAs) tend to assign leaders and duties amongst the group, work to come up with the best strategy, and spend the majority of their time sharpening their proverbial axe. The result? Most adult groups don't even finish with a standing structure.
As for the 5 year olds...
They rarely jockey for power in the group. They don’t plan. They just build, re-build, and go with the flow improving a little each time. They’ll often come up with multiple designs before the 18 minutes runs out with no obvious fear or concern of how they'd explain any potential embarrassment to their peers if they happen to fail in the process.
If you were to hit pause on your life plan for a moment and ask a classroom of kindergartners what you should do next, what do you think they’d say?
Work a little harder to hopefully get that promotion in 3-5 years?
Or take that humanitarian trip to Colombia you’ve been talking about and see where it goes?
Should we have children make long-term-potentially-reckless-life-decisions for us?
Probably not. But if we did, which story would you be more excited to tell?
Hint: the marshmallow is always heavier than it looks.
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